Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Tired of Waiting: Wolves Report
By: Tony Butcher
A clear, still, chilly-chilly evening time with around 400 Wolves fans slumped expectantly in the Osmond Stand. Some Town fans were spotted within the area known to many as Blundell Park, though not many, and certainly not heard.
Grimsby Town 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
08 Apr 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
There was no defiant air, those that had bothered to rise up from their sofa simply stared at the pitch. Why were we here? Duty, habit, ambulance chasing? Welcome to our house of fun.
With five minutes to go before kick off a squeaky squawk pierced the air, for Dave Boylen wandered onto the pitch to resume his career as forlorn camp comedian Ted Bovis. His attempts to rouse the crowd into a frenzy was met with apathetic shoulder shrugs and a few turned backs. Diddy Dave, youâ€™re flogging a dead horse. Itâ€™s over, walk on by, like those missing fans. There was a cheering sight though: Steve Croudson was leaping around saving shots from the substitutes, well, those that were on target. With Coyne not to be seen and Allaway rolling around in his baggy trousers practicing with the goalkeeping coach, there was a momentary frisson, was he playing? Nope, the club were just proving all those rumours wrong, he does exist, he isnâ€™t a tax dodge. Cooke and Livingstone took turns to batter the seats in the Pontoon. A clanging, clunking ker-ching resonated through the barely populated popular stand as Livvo took aim. It wasnâ€™t his limbs a-churning, or mind a-turning, but one of his shots broke a seat. Thatâ€™s no way to earn a new contract, unless breakages are deducted at source.
Town lined up in the new usual formation of 4-5-1, as shown. In other words, same as last time, despite all those broken bits. Perhaps Santos is like Worzel Gummidge, having a vast selection of heads stored in a barn. Today he chose his sanguine head. Wolves had a load of blokes weâ€™d heard of, in a 4-4-2 formation, and they played in all gold. Which Wolves would turn up? The abject dogs who capitulated to Brighton, or the triumphant trouncers of the Toon army? Personally, I hoped for the 4-1 shot "abject dogs". Which one is right Geoffrey?
One of the teams kicked off, which is fairly normal these days, with Town defending the Pontoon end. The first 10 minutes were fine, rather fine.
Not tremendously exciting, but Town were the more dominant team, passing, moving, or in the case of McDermott, vrooming down the right. Wolves were outmanoeuvred in midfield, with Town making the extra player count. It was all very pleasing. Mansaram almost turned himself and Lescott inside out, twice, when attempting to wriggle free inside the area. As usual, Mansaram rather ruined his own chances of success by spinning back inside, into a clump of gold. Still, a fine move led up to it with first time passes across the pitch, then down the left, involving Gallimore, Hughes, Groves and Keane. After about five minutes a lovely flowing move down the right, with McDermott and Campbell linking, jinking and dinking saw the ball flipped inside to Hughes, on the centre right edge of the penalty area with his back to goal. The lolloping loanee spun and hooked a shot straight to the lime and limpid green goalkeeper at the near post. Worth the hint of an "Ooh" and a clap.
And still the ball travelled southwards, rarely being inside the Town half. Crosses, corners, free kicks, we had â€˜em. Shots, errrrrr, well, thatâ€™s being greedy. The Pontoon was raising a collective and hopeful eyebrow at the performance so far - 10 minutes of not badness. But gnawing at our innards was the feeling that things were going far too easily. Wolves hadnâ€™t attacked yet. Around the 10th minute the game suddenly opened up . A Wolves back pass was slightly underhit and Murray, the mint in goal, almost passed the ball to Campbell, who bothered the â€˜keeper like a cheeky chihuahua nibbling at a giraffeâ€™s toes. Campbell fell over Murray as the ball was hacked clear and quickly flicked upfield down their right. Santos dozed a bit and Blake peeled away from the Magnificatâ€™s shoulder as the ball was tipped towards the left edge of the Town penalty area. Blake barged his way past Santos and muscled his way towards goal, allowing the ball to bound free like a beachball in Mablethorpe. He caught up with it and lashed a shot into the side netting from a very narrow angle as Coyne wrapped himself around the post. Thankfully, Blake was avaricious as he had looked up, seen Kennedy unmarked at the far post, and still wellied it wide.
Testing, testing, one-two. Mmmmm they were just warming up, werenâ€™t they. A couple of minutes later, with nothing happening of any consequence in midfield, they stopped testing. Wolves won possession in their own half on their left, the ball was played up to Miller near the half way line, who laid a first time pass off behind the Town defence into a huge, huge gap. Blake bounded free down their centre left, with Gallimore the nearest landmass, somewhere off the port bow, only visible using powerful binoculars. BLAKE hared off towards goal and, from about a dozen yards out and seven or eight wide of goal, belted a low shot across and under Coyne into the bottom left hand corner. The ball seemed to go through Coyneâ€™s legs, which hinted at a little embarrassment for the man in grey when he next sits on the coach to Walesâ€™ training ground. The Town fans let all that inflated hope be expelled from their lungs, crushed by reality. It was a like a mass out of body experience, disconnected from the pitch, almost invisible observers.
Once in the lead, not twice shy for Wolves. They continued to break at speed and with enormous purpose. They were never more dangerous than when Town had the ball, especially at corners and free kicks, which were uniformly awful, barely rising above the first defender. Ford fell apart, joining the crowd in watching the events from afar in total silence and with no discernible body movement betraying his emotions. Ford didnâ€™t bother marking Blake after a Wolves attack was half stopped out on the Town right. Blake wandered into space down the touchline and the ball was duly passed to him. Off he went, leaping like a happy rabbit in spring, without a care in the world. When he reached the bye-line he crossed, which is only sensible, to one of his team-mates, which is even more sensible, if not unusual in the confines of the Theatre of Groans. Miller zoomed towards the near post and, unmarked and just 5 yards out, side footed just wide of the gangway that leads to the toilets. Wolves had by this time worked out how to stop Town. Easy, let them do what they want until the edge of the penalty area then simply stand near them. Bolder, Keane, Groves and Hughes, all perfectly adequate stoppers, but no tricks, no pace, no threat. Campbell was a whirling dervish of activity, but he kept running into defenders. It was left to McDermott to cause them problems with his constant overlapping. His best moment was probably when he linked up with Campbell, drove towards the touchline, wriggled past the marker along the bye-line and only a last gasp sliding, swiping tackle stopped him advancing on goal.
Donâ€™t get too hopeful, hereâ€™s another sitter missed. Again, down the Town right, with Town half clearing, but the ball breaking to Kennedy, who flighted a first time cross into the near post. Blake, on the edge of the 6 yards area, ripped his way through an invisible challenge and headed firmly and thoroughly wide of the near post by the enormous margin of 18 inches. Some more outstretched hands and bemused looks inside the Town defence. And again. An instant replay, Kennedy, space, wide, right, cross, unmarked player 6 yards out. This time Ince threw himself forward and headed a couple of inches wide of the top right hand corner. Kennedy was superbly handled by McDermott whenever he tried to beat the Methuselah of Grimsby. The problems Town had were when Kennedy received the ball in space (often on breakaways and the confusions of half clearances). He sure can cross when given time.
A Town attack worth mentioning! A return to the confident, passing and movement of the first 10 minutes saw the ball fizz and whiz down the pitch from Town left to Town right, involving Groves, Campbell and Mansaram and finally McDermott (I think) who pulled a cross back from the bye-line towards the centre of the box. Hughes, unmarked and about a dozen yards out at the near post, steamed in and sliced a low first time shot across the face of goal and just past the â€˜keeperâ€™s right hand post. Apart from a bit of pressure late on in the half, after Murray had dropped a cross and the ball kept being lofted into the area, that was it as far as Town attacks go. Butterflies crushed on a very small wheel. Wolves had one more really close effort, when Kennedy, again, was able to get some space in a breakaway, got to the bye-line and chipped a cross directly onto Millerâ€™s head, eight yards out, just to the left of centre. Miller leant back and steered a weak header to Coyneâ€™s right. Coyne flopped onto the falling star, making it look far more spectacular to the distant dentists and hacks in the Main Stand than need be. Ford topped off a terrible first half performance by receiving a throw in from McDermott in the penalty area and slowly, slowly, turning and barely making contact with a back pass to Coyne. Pity Blake was in the way, pity for Blake the ball went through his legs and just reached Coyne, who fly-hacked it upfield. Whatâ€™s worse, the Pontoon could see what was going to happen even before Ford received the ball, he telegraphs his errors to his opponents several days before the game.
Half time: Grimsby Town 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Thatâ€™s it, over (first half, game and season). There was a smattering of boos, but mostly a hubbub of resignation, for not many Town fans are now willing to delude themselves. A good opening, then a goal conceded and all Townâ€™s weaknesses exposed thereafter. They ran around, they tried, but they just werenâ€™t good enough to create any problems for a solid upper mid-table team of other peopleâ€™s rejects, once weres and some could-bes. At times like this you need a bit of what you might call luck, or a saviour. Now where is that Michael Boulding?
Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk
"Itâ€™s like watching dry paint dry".
The report continues in the second half.
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